An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing)

Sponsor

Karina Gould  Liberal

Status

Report stage (House), as of Oct. 23, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-50.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act to

(a) enact an advertising and reporting regime for fundraising events attended by Ministers, party leaders or leadership contestants; and

(b) harmonize the rules applicable to contest expenses of nomination contestants and leadership contestants with the rules applicable to election expenses of candidates.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 15, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing)

Canada Elections ActPrivate Members' Business

December 7th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on Bill C-364 to discuss election financing law.

To start with, I will not be supporting this bill. That is not because I do not believe in a stronger role for public financing; I do believe that. It is because the alternative is a stronger role for private financing.

The key question I want to address in our democracy is a complete re-evaluation of political fundraising itself. Is fundraising necessary, and if so, what should it look like? Conventional wisdom is that it is. However, I want us to ask the question honestly and objectively.

Political parties need funds to operate and campaign. That is a given. However, what is a fair way to achieve that funding?

First, parties and riding associations should not have to fundraise in competition with each other. The fundraising should come from the riding, with a share sent to the party in order for it to remain a part of the party, with the specific details left up to each party or riding association to figure out. A party is not a party, after all, without ridings and representatives. The parties themselves are only meant to exist as a vehicle for like-minded members to work together, not as a means for members to become like-minded. That is a discussion for another day.

I disagree with the current fundraising model of 100% private funds, coupled with non-refundable tax credits and expense reimbursements that do not give equal ability to all members of society to participate, which is a fundamental tenet of any democracy. Those who have money can participate and get tax credits. Those who do not have money to participate are not eligible for the tax incentive to do so. Therefore, having less means that each dollar costs less fortunate individuals more in absolute terms, and prohibitively more in relative terms. Once again, those who need are at a disadvantage compared to those who do not, and politicians, with their insatiable need for funds, must necessarily gravitate toward those who have.

Many donors donate because they believe in the cause. However, I think it is naive to believe that all donors do. I am sure most of us have received an angry email or phone call at some point from someone who has given money to either our riding or our party saying, “I am a donor and I am angry.” Personally, I do not take well to this kind of message. I want people to donate because they believe in what we are doing and want us to continue, not in order to tell us what we need to do. If they are angry, I want to know that, not because they are donors but because they are citizens. I want that fact detached from the comment, and I want people who did not donate to express themselves with equal fervour. I am here to represent and work for all of my people to the best of my ability, not just those who supported me or may do so in the future.

I also disagree with the concept of annual per-vote funding, the primary objective of Bill C-364, for the simple reason that how people voted in 2015 may not reflect where they want their financial support to go. At that, it may not be the same in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019. If people vote for a Liberal candidate to block a Conservative candidate when they actually support the Green Party, why should the money go to the Liberals and not the Green Party in that circumstance? It does not make sense. If we do have per-vote funding, we should also have a preferential ballot so that the money we assign goes to our first pick, even if we have specified additional choices in order to prevent the unfavourable results that can sometimes come from not voting strategically.

On the other hand, I also do not believe that just because one has registered a political party it is automatically entitled to some funding or an equal level of funding as all the others. It must be tied to that party's actual support in some way. Giving the Rhinoceros Party $18 million simply because it is registered may not necessarily serve the interests of democracy, and providing per-party financing may motivate some people to register political parties for the purpose of simply collecting the money without any actual interest in the electoral process. I think these risks are fairly self-evident.

While I know I am very much in the minority on this, my preferred model for addressing all these concerns is to put a question on the tax returns of Canadians that would go something like this, with the numbers being completely arbitrary for the sake of demonstration here today.

With respect to let us say tax return line number 500, an answer to this section is required for my tax return to be accepted as complete. Therefore, the questions might be, “Question 1, I am entitled to direct $25 to a party registered in my riding or to be held in escrow for an independent candidate to be returned or forfeited if the candidate I name does not register to run in the next election: a) Yes, I would like to exercise this right, or b) No, I do not wish to contribute to any political party or independent candidate at this time.” If we check off no, then we are finished and have met our obligations under this section of the return. If we answer yes, that we do wish to direct $25 to a political party, we have three more questions to answer.

The first question would be, “The party or independent candidate I wish to support in my riding is”, then there would be a blank space or drop-down menu with data provided by Elections Canada for electronic filers. The second question would be, “I would like this money to: a) come from general revenues, or b) be added to my own tax assessment.” The final question would be, “I would like the origin of this contribution to be: a) disclosed to the party or independent candidate receiving it, or b) kept anonymous and confidential.”

Splitting up the questions like this allows those who believe it must be their own funds that contribute to political parties to put their money where their mouth is. However, more importantly, it means that someone who does not have two cents, and someone who is a millionaire, have the same weight in the fundraising process.

Everybody has the option but not the requirement to do so anonymously, so the data cannot be automatically used by political parties. Allowing people to say no to donating at all, and not knowing who, should help force all parties to retain a more positive message. Divisive dog-whistle fundraising will not work on an anonymous tax-assessment-based fundraising model. Being negative would serve to discourage people from contributing to political parties overall, with them answering no to the question of whether to give before seeing the options of who to give to.

The pie can be pretty big if Canadians all have a positive view of political parties, rather than the negative views promulgated today by some elements of our political system to sew division and make people hate, rather than to want to work together.

While the Canada Revenue Agency will no doubt be less than excited to get involved in this manner, and there must be careful and specific controls to protect the privacy of the responses to this question, in my view it is the fairest possible way to ensure that political financing is put on an equal basis by all citizens for those they support here and now, at all times, in all parts of the country.

There are no doubt other models and solutions that could be looked at, but I firmly believe that the question must be asked, and I thank the member for Terrebonne for bringing public financing reform forward for us to discuss.

This legislation also reduces the fundraising limits significantly in conjunction with the reintroduction of per-vote funding. The amount of the donation cap is largely irrelevant if there is still an inequity between donors who have means and donors who do not, and so the cap at $500 or $1,500 is largely immaterial to me. Someone who makes enough to pay taxes giving $400 is still out of pocket only $100, while someone who does not make enough to pay taxes giving $400 is out of pocket the full amount, not to mention possibly out of a home or a few meals. Therefore, I find the particular change proposed in the bill to be fairly meaningless. It would not solve any existing problem.

Finally, the member for Terrebonne's bill has an absolute rather than relative coming into force provision. Given that the bill is only at second reading here in the House and has yet to get through the Commons committee, report stage, third reading and referral to the Senate, second reading at the Senate, Senate committee, Senate report stage, Senate third reading, and royal assent, it is not realistic to suggest that the bill could be in force 24 days from now.

Over the past two years, we have made strides forward on these matters. I do not believe my views on fundraising reflect those of very many of my colleagues on any side of the House, but we are seeing changes both here and in several provinces.

Conservative Bill C-23, the so-called Fair Elections Act, reformed fundraising in a whole lot of ways that were detrimental to democratic society, including removing fundraising costs from capped expenses in an election campaign, and upping the donation limit by 25%, and then indexing it by $25 per year instead of by an an inflation-based formula.

I do not wish to re-litigate that particular bill. As the assistant at the time to the Liberal critic for democratic reform, I had more than enough sleepless nights trying to grok every word of that act once, and it certainly contributed to my motivation to seek a seat in this place so that this kind of abuse of democracy could not happen again.

Our own government's Bill C-50 brought in strict reporting requirements for fundraising events involving the key power brokers of government, and those working hard to replace them, which I think is genuinely important.

The thing about fundraising, and public financing of political parties, of course, is that there is no such thing as a perfect answer, only a balance of imperfect solutions. What I am sure of, though, is that Bill C-364 does not address the fundamental inequalities within our existing fundraising and public financing structure for our political system.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

December 7th, 2017 / 3:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue the report stage debate of Bill C-24, the one-tier ministry bill. Tomorrow, we shall commence second reading debate of Bill C-66, the expungement of historically unjust convictions act.

On Monday, we will call report stage and third reading of Bill C-51, the charter cleanup legislation. Tuesday we will return to Bill C-24 at third reading.

If Bill C-66 is reported back from committee, we would debate that on Wednesday with agreement. The backup bill for Wednesday will be Bill S-5, concerning vaping, at second reading.

On Thursday, the House will debate Bill C-50, political financing. Then on Friday, we will consider Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act.

November 9th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Christopherson.

As I mentioned in the presentation, Bill C-364 touches the same subject, amending the Election Act, as Bill C-50 and Bill C-33, so there's a bit of an inconsistency between two decisions with bills that have subjects that are similar to the subjects of government bills but are being treated in a different way.

As I said earlier, and I can't stress this enough, the intent of providing more scope for private members' business, as Mr. Christopherson said very eloquently just now, has always been to open the scope for each of us as a private member. It has nothing to do with whatever party we're affiliated with. It has much more to do with our rights as members.

This committee has always been the committee that has stood up for the prerogatives of members of Parliament. You have a very important role to play in that regard. This is, I think, a key circumstance, in that there's a bit of a loophole and that's why you're being asked in a sense to hear this appeal and make what I believe would be the right decision, which is to make Bill C-352 votable, because I think it meets all the tests. It certainly meets the intent as well of where we have evolved on private members' legislation, and you're the ones who can come to the defence of private members' legislation with this appeal that Ms. Malcolmson has brought to your attention.

November 9th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I also want to thank you, Ms. Malcolmson. We are very happy to have an opportunity to speak with you today about why Bill C-352 should be votable in the House of Commons.

Since your committee is in charge of all the prerogatives of Parliament, the decision you have to make is important.

There are three main arguments I would like to put forward at the beginning.

First off, as you will see, Bill C-352 is in fact quite a different piece of legislation from the government bill, Bill C-64, and therefore should not be considered the same question as Bill C-64, which is currently on the Order Paper.

Second, the subcommittee was incorrect in applying the criteria to Bill C-352 because it was similar to Bill C-64 at the same meeting where it applied different criteria, it seemed, to Bill C-364, which was declared votable, despite being on the same subject and amending the same Canada Elections Act as Bill C-50 and Bill C-33. There's an inconsistency there.

Third, allowing the subcommittee decision to stand is allowing the government to violate the separation of private members' business and to let it do through the back door what the rules were designed to forbid through the front door: to deny individual members their right to vote on their preferred item of private members' business.

As we all know, government bills are subject to party discipline. Private members' bills have been the exception to this, and in our bible, which is O'Brien and Bosc, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, it is clear that these rules were developed over decades, leading to a system based on the following fundamental characteristics: each member should have “at least one opportunity per Parliament to have an item of Private Members' Business debated” and voted upon, and “each item in the Order of Precedence would be votable, unless the sponsor opted to make it non-votable.”

The basic premise for PMBs is that government business is fundamentally different from private members' business. This premise was put in place to protect individual initiatives from members against the power of majority governments, including the power to try to knock off a bill.

Now, to emphasize the differences, the House has many rules built in to reflect the separation of government and private members' business. Amendments to private members' motions can only be moved with the consent of the sponsor. PMB recorded divisions, as we know, are done row by row in the chamber, and not by party. The lottery is designed to exclude ministers and parliamentary secretaries from PMBs, and if the committee makes a decision and it is appealed, the appeal is done by secret ballot on the floor of the House of Commons. The only other time this arises is when we elect a Speaker at the beginning of Parliament.

I would like to pass the microphone back now to Ms. Malcolmson, who will explain why Bill C-352 is so different from Bill C-64.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

October 27th, 2017 / noon
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Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Andy Fillmore LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Madam Speaker, Bill C-50 was reported back from committee to the House this week. I want to thank the members of the procedure and House affairs committee for their hard work and sound advice.

Canadians want greater transparency with respect to how their political leaders fundraise. Therefore, it was very disappointing that all opposition members voted against Bill C-50 at committee. It was also disappointing that the leader of the official opposition has not responded to my letter from several weeks ago inviting him and his party to proactively adopt the transparency measures of Bill C-50, like the Liberal Party has. Our government is committed to providing this transparency, and we look forward to working with all parliamentarians to secure the passage—

Democratic ReformOral Questions

October 27th, 2017 / noon
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Liberal

Mary Ng Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-50 would provide Canadians with an unprecedented level of transparency in political fundraising. This bill would require the public to be notified of fundraisers that cost more than $200 to attend, and involve cabinet, leaders of opposition parties, and leadership contestants. It would also require that parties publish who attended these fundraisers.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions tell the House about the progress of Bill C-50?

Political FundraisingOral Questions

October 24th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
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Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Alfred-Pellan for his question.

I was proud to introduce Bill C-50, which will make fundraisers for the prime minister, cabinet members, leadership contestants, and opposition leaders more open and transparent. I am pleased that the committee reported the bill back to the House yesterday.

While I am up, I would like to congratulate the members for Lac-Saint-Jean and Sturgeon River—Parkland as well as all of the candidates and the volunteers who played an active role in our democracy.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 23rd, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 41st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in relation to Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act with regard to political financing. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

October 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Well, no. If you want to give me a chance to make a macro-case about it, I will, but the clause in front of us is talking about the conventions. I'm just saying that you're still allowing what you say Bill C-50 provides transparency for, and when it's at a convention, it's opaque. That's all I'm saying.

October 19th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I would say to my honourable friend that there is merit in that argument. I don't see why we aren't constructing legislation that carves that out but still ensures that these other thank-you events aren't happening.

I don't think it's the conventions that are the bigger problem; it's the opportunity for a second gathering with the high-priced, influential government decision-makers still in attendance. That is being exempted from the transparency that Bill C-50 is providing elsewhere. That's my problem.

October 19th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Thank you.

The purpose of the exemption acknowledges the logistical difficulties of enforcing this at a convention, with individuals moving around, and lining up who is in the room at the same time with certain individuals when there is coming and going.

Bill C-50 still ensures that if there is a ticketed event during a convention.... For example, at ours, there is always a Judy LaMarsh fundraiser to raise money for women candidates who are running. It's a separate ticketed event, and if a minister were to attend, that would be covered by this legislation.

October 19th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

I call the meeting to order.

Good morning, and welcome to the 74th meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. This meeting is being held in public.

I'm going to give a bit longer preamble today because we're doing clause by clause.

Today we're proceeding with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act in relation to political financing. We have officials from the Privy Council Office, who are here to provide any assistance we need. We have Riri Shen, director of operations, democratic institutions, and Madeleine Dupuis, policy adviser, democratic institutions.

Thank you both for being here if we have any questions.

Before we begin, I'd like to provide members who haven't done this before with some information about how committees generally proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of a bill.

The committee will consider each of the clauses in the order in which they appear in the bill. Once I have called a clause, it is subject to debate and vote. If there are amendments to the clause in question, I'll recognize the member proposing the amendment, who may explain it. The amendment will then be open for debate. When no further members wish to intervene, the amendment will be voted on. Amendments will be considered in the order in which they appear in the package each member receives from the clerk. If there are amendments that are consequential to each other, they will be voted on together.

In addition, to be properly drafted in a legal sense, amendments must also be procedurally admissible. The chair may be called upon to rule amendments inadmissible if they go against the principle of the bill or beyond the scope of the bill, both of which were adopted by the House when it agreed to the bill at second reading, or if they offend the financial prerogative of the crown.

If you wish to eliminate a clause in the bill altogether, the proper course of action is to vote against the clause when the time comes, not to propose an amendment to delete it.

During the process, if the committee decides not to vote on a clause, that clause can be put aside by the committee so that we can revisit it later in the process.

Amendments have been given a number in the top right-hand corner to indicate which party submitted them. There is no need for a seconder to move an amendment. Once an amendment is moved, unanimous consent is required to withdraw it.

Once every clause has been voted on, the committee will vote on the title of the bill itself, and an order to reprint the bill may be required if amendments are adopted so that the House has a proper copy for use at report stage.

Finally, the committee will have to order the chair to report the bill to the House. That report only contains the text of any adopted amendments, as well as indication of any deleted clauses.

I thank the members for their attention. We will now proceed with clause-by-clause consideration.

October 18th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Thank you very much, Minister Brison.

Mr. Chair, colleagues, committee members, thank you for inviting me to appear alongside my colleague, Minister Brison, to address Bill C-58. I'd like to acknowledge that Allen Sutherland from Democratic Institutions is here.

I want to acknowledge the important work of the public service in putting this bill together.

The Government is taking measures to maintain the openness, the transparency and the accountability of our democracy. To this end, we have introduced Bill C-33 in order to increase voter turnout and to enhance the integrity of our electoral system.

We've also put forward Bill C-50, which would make political fundraising more transparent.

As Minister of Democratic Institutions, I have also acted to help protect our electoral system from cyber-threats.

Earlier this year, I asked the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, to undertake the very first assessment of threats to our democratic process. Since the release of the report, in June, the CSE has communicated with political parties and with provincial and territorial chief electoral officers to provide them with advice against cyberthreats.

Today, I am here with you to discuss Bill C-58. This legislation includes long-overdue amendments to an access to information law that has not been updated since it passed almost 34 years ago. The amendments to the act being brought forward by my colleague, Minister Brison, would help to significantly update and improve how Canada's access to information laws function.

Right now, I would like to focus in particular on how Bill C-58 would impact three areas: the offices of the Prime Minister and his ministers, members of Parliament and senators, and the administrative institutions that support Parliament and parliamentarians.

The bill would require the Prime Minister’s Office and ministerial offices to proactively disclose a variety of documents, including mandate letters, transition handbooks, information packages for ministers and their deputies, as well as information regarding travel and accommodation costs for ministers and their exempt staff.

It would also require disclosure of contracts over $10,000.

Information prepared by departments for question period and parliamentary committee appearances would also be subject to the act.

As you know, some of this information is already proactively disclosed by ministerial cabinets. However, this practice is not consistent and is not set out in the law. The aim of this bill is to obtain uniform disclosure from all cabinets. It would require the public release of those documents for the first time.

Of course, exemptions and exclusions under the law would still apply in the case of requests concerning certain issues, such as personal and national security issues.

Bill C-58 also extends the act to senators and members of Parliament. For the first time, this disclosure will be formalized in law. Bill C-58 also applies to institutions that support Parliament. I am referring to organizations like the Library of Parliament, the parliamentary budget officer, and the Senate and Commons administrations.

We’re improving the openness of these offices while ensuring security laws and parliamentary privilege.

Bill C-58 will make it possible to achieve the necessary balance while implementing measures that will contribute to modernize the Access to Information Act. Canada’s democratic institutions will thus increase their transparency and accountability.

To conclude, Bill C-58 will significantly advance the availability and efficiency of the Access to Information Act as it is related to the Prime Minister's office and ministers' offices, parliamentarians, as well as the institutions that support Parliament.

The reforms proposed in Bill C-58 are an important step in the ongoing review and modernization of the Access to Information Act, and I look forward to working with all members to enhance accountability.

With that, I welcome your questions. Merci.

October 17th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Thank you for your presentation and for being here today. We look forward to the responses that you're going to give us and the insights, because you come with a great background and experience, having gone through this in Ontario.

I like how you talked about making sure there's a level playing field and you referred to yourself as a referee, because I think that's appropriate. The key, really, is the balance or the transparency and participation. Do you think Bill C-50 gets it right in that regard?

October 17th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Greg Essensa Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Ontario

I would like to begin by thanking the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for inviting me to provide my observations on Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act with respect to political financing. I welcome the chance to offer my insights and advice on the electoral process to you. When I provide comments to a committee of the House of Commons, I am very aware that I am addressing Canada's lawmakers.

Today, I would like to briefly address these topics: one, creating a fair and level playing field; two, Ontario's election finance system; and three, the provisions of this bill.

The first observation I'd like to make is on the importance of maintaining a fair and level playing field. All political actors require financial resources, and money is an essential element in politics. Chief electoral officers of Canada, from the past and present, speak of the special role parties play in the democratic process. They also speak of the need to strike the right balance in creating a funding formula that sustains parties but does not unfairly enrich them or, conversely, leave them beholden to any one contribution source.

The concept of the level playing field is central to our democracy. It is also a unifying principle of election administration; it ties together the voting process and the campaign process. This is how it ties them together. Election outcomes are supposed to reflect the genuine will of the people. Political finance rules are supposed to ensure that parties have equal opportunity to raise and spend funds to advance their message and win votes. Electoral outcomes should not be distorted because of unequal opportunities to influence the electorate.

Academics and judges have written about this at length. As an election administrator, I see that it boils down to one fundamental proposition: All who enter the electoral arena should be treated equally. The debate, then, becomes what rules are rational, necessary, and practical to have in place. In other words, we need to strike the right balance between transparency and participation in the electoral process.

I would now like to provide some insight into Ontario's election finance regime.

Last year, while Ontario was undergoing significant electoral reform, I was asked and agreed to serve as an adviser to the Standing Committee on General Government. As the Chief Electoral Officer, I am an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly. My mandate includes overseeing the registration and financial reporting requirements of all parties and candidates, not just those represented in the Legislative Assembly. You might say that I am the referee, and I referee the rules of the political game in provincial elections. I saw my role as helping ensure there was a level playing field on which all compete.

Ontario took an extensive process in consulting the public. Throughout my time as an adviser, I had the opportunity to travel the province and listen to deputants speak about the relationship between money and politics. I also appeared three times in front of the committee to provide my thoughts on the provisions in the bill.

In following the debate on the bill prior to the consultation process, it was evident that there was a strong desire to reform campaign finances and to put an end to what was termed “cash for access”. Ontario made significant reforms to contribution limits.

The first was a ban on corporate and trade union donations. Only individuals who are residents of Ontario can now make contributions to political parties, constituency associations, candidate campaigns, leadership contestants, and nomination contestants.

The second significant change was the amount an individual could contribute annually to political parties. Prior to the amendments, individuals could contribute up to $9,975 annually, and up to an additional $9,975 for each campaign period. This meant that, in a year when we had two by-elections, contributors were able to contribute up to $29,925 to a party.

Under the bill now, the contribution limit is $1,200 annually to a political party, $1,200 annually to constituency associations and nomination contestants, and $1,200 annually to a leadership contestant, totalling an annual contribution limit of $3,600. No extra amount over the annual limit is allowed, regardless of the number of campaigns.

The next area I would like to address is annual allowances.

Earlier in my remarks, I observed the need to strike the right balance in creating a funding formula that sustains parties but does not unfairly enrich them or leave them beholden to any one contribution source. To that end, Ontario introduced a unique system by providing quarterly allowances to support the activities of political parties and constituency associations. Funding formulas have been developed to determine how much each party or constituency association receives.

While I strongly believe that private and public funding support to political parties is essential, I do not advocate for one model over another, but believe that a funding formula that balances public and private funding is an important component of our democratic system.

Another significant amendment was to fundraising events themselves. Similar to the provisions in Bill C-50, Ontario introduced similar reporting requirements for fundraising events. Parties are also required to inform the public on their website at least seven days in advance that a fundraising event is being held.

Attendance at fundraising events, though, has been significantly reformed in Ontario. Many political actors are now prohibited from attending fundraising events. These range from leaders of registered parties, MPPs, to staff members in the leader's office. As you can see, Ontario has taken a strong approach to amending the election finance system.

What I will put forward for the consideration of this committee, when you are reviewing and amending provisions related to election finance laws, concerns the risk of unintended consequences. Let me give you an example.

While Ontario was amending its fundraising requirements, prohibiting party leaders, MPPs, and nomination contestants from attending fundraising events, they did not make any exceptions for events such as annual general meetings, policy conferences, and similar events. I believe the new fundraising requirements were originally intended to restrict attendance at large fundraising dinners and other such events. However, because of the wording of the act, I believe an unintended consequence of the attendance restrictions applied to party meetings like annual general meetings, for which delegate fees included a contribution portion. I thus wrote to all three party leaders recommending that the Election Finances Act be amended at the earliest opportunity to specifically exempt such events.

I do not believe the attendance provisions were meant to restrict leaders and MPPs from attending events where party policy and party platforms were being debated and decided upon. Generally, I was supportive of most of these changes and found this level of reform appropriate.

I will now turn my attention to the provisions of Bill C-50. In reviewing the provisions of this bill and other bills related to elections, I always ask myself whether the changes protect the integrity of the electoral process, preserves fairness, and promotes transparency.

I have reviewed this bill closely and offer the following observations. The provisions in Bill C-50 are not as strict as those of Ontario's current election finance system. Yet, there are many positive aspects of this bill. I do believe this bill achieves greater transparency by making fundraising events public and adding requirements to report to the Chief Electoral Officer.

I would suggest that the committee, in deliberating these provisions, apply the principle of consistency when regulating political actors. The way the legislation is written, many of these fundraising provisions apply only to leaders, interim leaders, or leadership contestants. I believe it would be an oversight to not give consideration to, for example, members of Parliament or high-ranking political staffers, such as chiefs of staff, when it comes to attendance at fundraising events. Many of them have a level of influence that is important to recognize. Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley also raised this when he presented to you on this bill, and I concur with his rationale.

As the committee continues to debate this legislation and additional changes to election finances, I once again remind you to closely examine all provisions of the bill to ensure that unintended consequences do not arise.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee for inviting me to speak and offer my perspectives as Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario. I applaud the work this committee is doing on electoral reform and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.